Amazing fiction and nonfiction books on protecting your mental health and in persevering against all odds.

Welcome to our blog again. I hope you’ve been taking care of your health, most importantly of your mental health. I know times have been hard, and it hasn’t been an easy ride, especially with regards to one’s mental health, but hang in there because it’ll get better. We all have our good days, our days, and even our worst days, but nothing good ever came out of stewing in a bell jar of toxicity. 

In order to help learn more about the various mental conditions and ways to cope with them, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best books on mental health for you. Feel free to peruse.

Fiction Books about Mental Health

Em and the Big Hoom

by Jerry Pinto

Starting off my compilation with this one as it is one of my favorites. An account of mental health that is wholesome and, at the same time, utterly bittersweet, Jerry Pinto brings to life the blossoming romance between Em and the Big Hoom (as Imelda and her husband Augustine are referred to lovingly), the trials and tribulations of Em who suffers from bipolar disorders and is suicidal as well and the worries of a son who hopes that the illness isn’t genetic. This book follows a non-linear narrative and is filled with charm, innocence and is a strange, flamboyant, yet unnerving window into the ups and downs of caring for a family member with a mental illness.

Bell Jar

by Sylvia Plath

Known to be a semi-autobiographical account of Plath’s suicidal attempt in 1953, this book comes complete with newspaper clippings that are replicated from real cuttings from what was published about Plath’s own experience. It revolves around a young writer and intern at a glamorous New York magazine named Esther Greenwood, who is disenchanted by the glamorous industry she finds herself in and, upon returning home, spirals into a deep depression. Upon attempting suicide multiple times, she is institutionalized and subjected to electroshock therapy. It doesn’t matter whether she is on the deck of a ship or sitting in a quaint cafe, she will always believe that she’s stuck in a bell jar from which there is no escape and where she will forever stew in the toxic juices of her deteriorating mental state.

Wide Sargasso Sea

by Jean Rhys

If you loathed the mistreatment of Bertha at the hands of Mr. Rochester in the classic Jane Eyre, then this book is for you. It details how Bertha wasn’t just the ‘violently insane madwoman in the attic as she was passed off by her insensitive ex-husband but rather delves into how all the past and present tragedies in her life- from losing a brother to a fire and her mother to grief- all impacted her mental health. It explores the hold that her mental illness had on her mind and which further deteriorated once she married the emotionally manipulative, abusive, and unfaithful Rochester who flaunted his affairs in front of her openly. It humanizes a woman whose already fragile emotional state is on the brink of shattering into pieces.

Symptoms of Being Human

by Jeff Garwin

Riley, the gender-fluid protagonist of this book, is unable to find acceptance within their new school and lets out all their true feelings, emotions, and bottled-up thoughts via an online blog. Riley’s panic attacks and anxiety are very well detailed by the author, and their coping mechanisms will also lend comfort to readers who struggle with similar illnesses. It draws attention to not only the emotional and violent mistreatment meted out to the genderqueer community on a daily basis but also normalizes that anxiety is a normal response to stress and that some people’s systems can be more sensitive than that of others.

Winter Girls

by Laurie Halse Anderson

An eighteen-year-old struggles to move on after the untimely death of her best friend Cassie from anorexia, a disease that they share in common. Trigger warning: This YA offering delves into tough to read topics such as self-harm and suicide.

This Song Will Save Your Life

by Leila Sales

A novel for the YA crowd, the story follows Elise, who is depressed as a result of years of bullying and loneliness. She has been driven to the brink of suicide many times, but all these changes when she starts life anew as a DJ and finds an emotional resonance that she’d never felt before. This book sheds light on the fact that depression morphs itself and manifests in various ways, and not everybody’s coping mechanisms are the same.

Nonfiction Books on Mental Health

The Collected Schizophrenias

by Esme Weijim Wong

Schizophrenia is a condition that’s misconstrued by many, and so is institutionalization. This book seeks to put an end to the misinformation by exploring the technical, social, medical, and personal aspects of both topics through a collection of conversations from leading experts in the field and informed, personal, powerful essays from patients.

No Straight Thing Was Ever Made

by Urvashi Bahughuna

This book sheds light on how mental health is sidelined by Indian society. Urvashi Bahughuna was diagnosed with mood disorders and was the first in her Indian household to accept and seek treatment for the same. She documents the impact of her illness on her interpersonal relationships, her interactions with her peers, the changes and challenges that were thrown her way, as well as how she connected with literature, pop culture, and art relating to her condition. The book is a collection of personal essays, anecdotes, conversations as well as research-based stories, all of which explore the many facets of living with a mental illness.

Body Positive Power

by Megan Jayne Crabbe

Megan Jayne fought a battle with anorexia at age fourteen after struggling with body image issues since age 5. A series of weight fluctuations, dieting and binging led to her realization that she needed to escape this cult of scarily thin bodies and accept her body instead of warring with it. She found body positivity, and so can you with the help of her book. Society has taught us to perceive our bodies in a harmful way, but we can stop believing these lies ourselves and take our power back, as the title suggests.

Brave Face

by Shaun David Hutcherson

Shaun puts on a brave face, but on the inside, he is drowning from depression brought on by a homophobic society that has made him believe that he is unworthy of love and acceptance. He struggles to find his place within the LGBTQIA+ community as a result of this self-doubt. This constant battle with himself and being put down only leads to him realizing that he must truly believe in himself first and foremost before looking for acceptance from others.

Thanks for reading, and we hope these will help you in protecting your mental health and in persevering against all odds. Please do share, and let’s meet up next time, yeah? Cheerio!

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